Well, I am just...hm. I am very emotional right now and cannot commit to anything that spews out of my mouth either out of rage or just all the feels....moreWell, I am just...hm. I am very emotional right now and cannot commit to anything that spews out of my mouth either out of rage or just all the feels.
I wrote a huge review for this and it just disappeared before I saved it. FML.
So, after I finished reading the third book, I finally noticed that all the covers have the amplifiers on them in order. Obviously the third book is technically wrong, because it should be Mal on the cover instead.
This book was extremely upsetting in both good and bad ways. Let me explain.
Things that made me angry/confused me:
-Alina's hair became shockingly white, which reminded me of Daenerys. Come on, let's stop involving GoT in everything. -Nikolai's sudden situation takes him (conveniently) out of the picture long enough for Malina (Mal and Alina) to figure things out for themselves/get back together grudgingly at first. -If a Sun Summoner is rare, that makes Alina rare. That makes her family special. I thought for sure her theory would, in fact, be correct. When it wasn't, I still wondered about her family. There has to be something about them, right? I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING *gnashing teeth*.
-The amplifiers' transfer of powers is inconsistent. The first two were transferred to Alina no problem. The last is confusing...technically Mal's ancestor was the amplifier and she died. I already take a stance against that because she was raised from the dead and shouldn't she be nearly immortal? When she gave birth to Mal, did her amplifier power transfer to him through her genes (were there FOUR amplifiers at that time or three and she lost her amplifier-ness?) or when she died did it transfer to him through default or nearest live body to her? In which case, I have no idea how these amplifiers work. -The Darkling's merzost-induced traumas lessened and were undone with his death. This makes absolutely NO sense, because you cannot pick-and-choose what is undone. If it is undone, all of it must be undone. CONSISTENCY. Which means that people who died should now be living and all the other injured should be healed (if it was from the Darkling's zombie Dementors). -I like Genya the best and her injuries and ugliness were something I appreciated and knew she was strong enough to rise above. I thought this made her character so much more. But in the end, even this harshness was slightly lessened to make her easier to look at again. -If you think of Alina as a glow-in-the-dark sticker or a solar-powered gadget, shouldn't she have had a little bit of Sun Summoning juice in her after all those months of healing? You don't need a strict source of sunlight. I realize I just compared Alina to a glow-in-the-dark sticker, but...shut up.
Things I loved about it all:
-Nikolai. -Malina's orphanage take over. -Alina losing her Sun Summoning ability. -Alina choosing to be without political power and sway—living the simple life. -Oncat.
But srsly, everyone should read these books.(less)
Other than: OMGlob, life is so sad, imperfect, and really goddamn dumb. Despite all the heart pains this sequel induces, the story and...moreWhat can I say?
Other than: OMGlob, life is so sad, imperfect, and really goddamn dumb. Despite all the heart pains this sequel induces, the story and characters are worth every freaking stab. Keep an eye out for Hana. She's a firecracker, and possible source of ass-kickery.
Sentence: I sentence Jay Kristoff to a stormdance-off. I suspect he will win.
Initial reaction: I was reminded of Atlantis, Eon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, How to Train Your Dragon, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Gladiator, and The Hunger Games, over the course of this entire book (in varying degrees). But only in the best ways, which I'll elaborate later.
Let me start off by saying that this book is not perfect, nor do I demand everyone read it. I really enjoyed this book and you, whoever you may be, will likely read much about this book after it has been released. That does not mean you will like it. I really enjoy steampunk, but I don't think all steampunk was really meant for me. Most YA steampunk actually sucks or isn't what I'd consider steampunk (yes, my nose is all up in the air rejecting YA, even though I love it too) and it certainly is not meant for everyone to enjoy.
Stormdancer is just the right amount of dark steampunk that I can get and nod at without argument. But Stormdancer is also many other things that I can easily get sick of; I do not normally read; and I watch and read too much of already so it's overkill. That's why I was impressed by how much I could stand some of the themes and aspects I had seen time and time again.
Kristoff takes things that are sorely overdone and then kicks them altogether into some sort of crazy-ass contraption of symbiosis. All the elements feed off each other and they make beautiful, stormy music; the conductor being Kristoff.
I will admit that the beginning was pretty slow until about eight or so chapters in. It's the first book in a trilogy so I always allow this sort of lag for world-building and character development. But that does not mean the plot had not already rooted itself into the reader's mind.
I think what killed it for me was the complexity of Yukiko's relationship with the green-eyed samurai. On the one hand, he is fucking gorgeous and he likes her. On the other, he is (view spoiler)[an awful, back-stabbing asshole (but there is probably more to it than that). (hide spoiler)] Sure, there's that almost love triangle that is so typical of YA these days, but there's also (view spoiler)[sex (hide spoiler)]. So fuck all y'all. Finally, something as realistic and impulsive as teens really can be. And don't you dare try to deny that. I'm not trying to generalize, I am just saying...okay, fuck it. I am generalizing. I used to be an impulsive teen, so I think I still (sort of) know.
Also, that last fight was pretty damn awesome.
Anyway, I do not want to really spoil this book as it is more enjoyable reading all of it play out. This would probably make a pretty decent anime movie or show, by the way. Just sayin'. There was Howl's Moving Castle, yes, but there is also this (nudge, nudge Miyazaki).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
NOTE: I have read the original Masque of the Red Death by Poe. I suggest others do as well, before continuing with this story. It should be available...moreNOTE: I have read the original Masque of the Red Death by Poe. I suggest others do as well, before continuing with this story. It should be available online for free. Because of the amount of books I have, I figured it would be somewhere in my stash, and sure enough I found a compendium of Poe's stories and poetry.
Also, there are spoilers. Only spoilers.
Sentence: I sentence Bethany Griffin to a life free of masks, disease, and choppy settings/scene flow.
Review: I read this book in less than two hours. I devoured this book faster than the Red Death devours a human body. There was no time for pus or bruising, I was on top of this one second and ripping it apart the next.
Yes, I adore this book, even if I only gave it four stars (it did not WOW me, but it made me relatively happy I still bother to read teen).
The Debauchery district/club that Araby frequents is a reminder, to those who have read Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, of the atmosphere and aesthetics of the seven rooms at Prince Prospero's masquerade. Unlike Poe's work, Griffin introduces several dark characters in this already dark setting.
Araby, the reader's heroine, is addicted to the release of Oblivion (a drug that reminds me of a combo of opium and heroin) and freedom from nightmares or reminders of her twin brother's demise.
Enter April, Araby's hilarious, superficial but life-saving best friend. (view spoiler)[When April goes missing (briefly), Elliot scoops up Araby on his dark horse and convinces her to help bring some hope and light to such a bleak, downtrodden world (through rebellion). This is where I found myself at a crossroads of love and distaste. On the one hand, Araby gives the blueprints of the masks to Elliot without a frakking fuss. How could she trust him? How is she not freaking out about having little time to make a copy? How can she betray her father? But then I realized she trusts April and April trusts Elliot. And then I realized she blames herself for pretty much everything that goes wrong, so it's her twisted way of doing something right. And then I realized, goddamn it, I'd probably do the same thing, with the same coasting and emotionless attitude as her. Even her father, later, acknowledges that he is not sure whether what she did was right or wrong. Afterall, how can there be right and wrong in a world so warped that morals are reversed and being bad is pretty much good?
And then she trusts Will (the one very light thing in this shadowy and dank city), who I immediately fell for after reading about him and the kids. It's pretty much a girl trap right there. How could you not love an older sibling raising these two young kids; risking his life to give them the best?
But even trusting him is a mistake and I'm frustrated with myself more than with Will; mostly because Elliot was right the entire time about trusting no one, not even him. (hide spoiler)]
The reason I had to describe all of that above is because this is what it was like, reading this novel. All these surprises and traps that I wasn't prepared for and ended up loving, despite the frustrations and mistakes.
But, as hard as it is to believe, my favourite part of Griffin's story was not the hint of steampunk; or the death and despair; or the nod to Poe; or even the atmospheric familiarity to that of the French Revolution. It was Araby's odd connection to April. (view spoiler)[April, the funny, not-as-superficial-as-I-thought, infected best friend. I may not love April, but goddamn it I love that Araby and April put each other's lives above that of the men they are connected to. Maybe it's just me, but it's hard to find teen fiction where the friend does not betray the protagonist or, worse, become a bench warmer and basically watch their friend get screwed over. It's fucking refreshing. It's not all about Araby's love interests and how she will possibly be confused later that she clearly likes both Elliot and Will, but about saving the person she loves most. (hide spoiler)] And she loves April.
But seriously, she is lacking major emotions throughout the entire book, especially for being a first person perspective. I would be freaking the fuck out.
Finally, the settings and flow from scene to scene were very choppy. It's basically the only reason I was confused during this entire ordeal of a story. Sometimes I wasn't even sure who was saying what since Araby never seemed to reveal much of her mind to the reader to begin with; I couldn't gauge what she knew about her father's work, the Red Death or even what she absorbed about pther people. But I'd like to associate this lack of flow in scenes to her brain being addled by drugs or even the confused fast pace of it all being so because of the presence of a contagion that could wipe out the entire human race. There is bound to be some crazy flow, right?
But still, that shit be fucking whack. She was coasting through it all like shit wasn't going down.
Can't wait for the fucking masquerade of death.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a science-fiction or steampunk novel following the story of Anderson Lake, a "Calorie Man." The planet is in a...moreThe Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi is a science-fiction or steampunk novel following the story of Anderson Lake, a "Calorie Man." The planet is in a state of disarray, where food we take for granted today, have gone extinct. This is a result of genetically engineered diseases, which mutate faster than vaccinations are created, infecting crops (and people). The value of calories are equivalent to currency and corporations have a hand in mostly genetics (reminds me of Repo! The Genetic Opera), especially to manipulate them into a food capable of resisting diseases. Lake is a genetic engineer who works for one of these Midwestern calorie companies, and his research has landed him in Thailand, which seems even more chaotic than the rest of the planet due to the staggering caste system and dissatisfaction with society.
The windups are a lower-level caste group, because they are genetically engineered with superior traits to humans (hearing, eyesight, beauty, etc.)—basically treated like trash. Lake is intrigued by Emiko, a windup from Japan who is rather resistant to authority and smart-mouthed, despite her precarious situation (sex slave). And their adventure takes off from there.
This story is great because it manages to take different points of view and shape the story with ease. The build up is intense and full of action, easily keeping the reader at the edge of their seat. The story itself seems incredible and yet so familiar and possible, especially with a near wipe-out of an entire species of banana (see Panama disease and Gros Michel). The idea of a planet torn by science is also not a new idea, but definitely one people like to read and talk about. It's also a very easy world to picture, especially because of the effortless way Bacigalupi sets the scene.
Unfortunately, while this story is fascinating, it is also lacking. There was a lot of build up and potential, but things were never properly fleshed out, such as the fate of the New People, and a proper idea of the Green Headbands (he mentions really enticing tidbits and then cuts himself off). And honestly, the story doesn't quite pick up steam until almost halfway through, and even then the ending is a little deflated (unless this will have a sequel).
The Windup Girl is on its way to predicting the future of agricultural profit and genetic manipulation/biotech today (see Monsanto monocultures and patent rights).(less)